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Topics Homepage> Wikileaks does more good than harm

Wikileaks does more good than harm

PRO (4 assertions)

Define:

more good than harm - does more good than harm in promoting honesty and good government throughout the world, in one word, transparency

“What does censorship reveal? It reveals fear.” -Julian Assange.

1. Assertion: Wikileaks aids government transparency and forces governments to be accountable and responsible in their actions

Reasoning: Clearly, Wikileaks has done the public a service by publishing, at times, embarrassing accounts of how the U.S. government conducts its foreign policy. The government is supposed to represent the people, and the people’s wants and wishes, not to employ terrorist tactics or subterfuge methods that the people do not want in foreign diplomacy. The government claims to be of the people, by the people, and for the people, and has grand pretenses about protecting freedom worldwide, yet it wants to be able to keep most of the details of its actions away from the very public that the government is supposed to be made of and be for! Wikileaks has helped to shed the real light on the inner-workings of our government, and though it may not be a pretty light, it is the truth, and we must face the truth. I would like to point something out to you, judge, that our opponents may try to mislead you into believing. Wikileaks has released NO military plans, or anything involving national security. It has revealed astounding acts of violence, morally incorrect actions, but it has not in any way threatened the average American.

Evidence: Kristine Hafrasson, a Wikileaks spokesperson, stated, “What our mission is is to create a more transparent world. We believe that transparency is the basis of healthy democracy, a nation united by the people, and created for the people. Therefore, we believe, as do most all of you, that a world without secrets is a better world.” Is Wikileaks 100% good in every single way? No. But it is the most effective way, by utilizing the Internet, to help eradicate secrets and make our world a better place.

2. Assertion: What Wikileaks exposes and the actions it takes do have real-world, beneficial results

Reasoning: Wikileaks has the ability, utilizing the power of the Internet, to actually make a difference. Not only is it incredibly effective and honest, but the reports the it presents actually do make people look at them and actually use these exposed reports to their advantage in creating a better government to represent them. Wikileaks does work and people will take action when they see what the site is posting.

Evidence: In 2009, Wikileaks successfully exposed hundreds of recent extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya, prompting Amnesty International to award Julian Assange the 3009 New Media Award. After the reports were published, the United Nations sent a team of investigators and troops into Kenya to investigate the killings. Knowledge of the assassinations wouldn’t have been possible without Wikileaks, and the successful stopping of Human Rights Violations wouldn’t have either been possible without the help of Wikileaks.

3. Assertion: Wikileaks allows these PMFs to be tried for crimes that would otherwise go unpunished.

First on all, I’d like to give the room an idea of what a PMC is and how PMFs operate. A private military company (PMC) or (Private Military or Security Companies) provides staff and services of military and sometimes security natures. The hiring of professional soldiers is a common practice in the history of armed conflict. Historically, these soldiers are commonly known as mercenaries. Today, the industry is worth over $100 billion per year. They have worked as bodyguards to the corrupt Afghan president Hamid Karzai and are currently enlisted by the U.S. Department of State. In October 2007, the United Nations released a two-year study that stated, that although hired as "security guards", private contractors were performing military duties. The report found that the use of contractors such as Blackwater, the most common was a "new form of mercenary activity" and illegal under International law.


Reasoning: Discharged military personnel make up the majority of PMC operatives.

According to international law, these contractors shall not be subject to local laws or regulations in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their contracts.

PMFs were involved in almost half of the cases in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a disgrace involving the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, sodomy, and homicide of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Reasoning 2: According to international law, PMCs shall not be subject to local laws or regulations in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their contracts. What this means is that because of the nature of their business and contracts, Blackwater and other PMC operatives are not bound to U.S. military protocols or a code of conduct, and they have no incentive to follow the law. The government needs them both for defense and as skilled operatives in war, but, as in the many cases in which they have killed and tortured innocents and civilians, they can walk freely because of a weak law. What Wikileaks has done is it has allowed the United States and U.N. to try these soldiers for the sick, abusive criminal wrongs they have done to civilians. Without Wikileaks, these operatives could do no wrong. With it, light is being shone on their injustice.

Evidence: According to both international and U.S. law, PMCs cannot be tried for their crimes when in war. However, according to a 2010 CNN news article regarding public rage at the treatment of civilians by soldiers, the number of PMCs tried for their crimes in the Iraq war has gone up by 34% since the Abu scandal. Obviously, Wikileaks has exposed these crimes in such a way that these previously invincible men can be stopped.

4. Assertion: What Wikileaks is doing is legal because it is exercising the freedom of speech for a worthy cause—to improve our nation

Reasoning: The Pentagon Papers were a cache of documents released by Ellsburg, a U.S. military personnel. The New York Times published the article, releasing the classified information after receiving it from a discreet source, just as Wikileaks is doing by publishing it’s papers from sources in the U.S. Army. When the New York Times was sued, it was found that what it did was perfectly legal and was allowed to publish the article. Wikileaks is doing the exact same thing, and it is legal!

Evidence: In the case United States v. New York Times Co., the Supreme Court upheld the New York Times publication of the Pentagon Papers 6-3. This case proved that the leaking of classified documents is legal under the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment. So, when Wikileaks does the same exact thing, what they’re doing is legal, too.

CON (5 assertions)

No framework

1. Assertion: Wikileaks is an assault on global democracy

Reasoning: Wikileaks discloses classified information illegally. These illegal exposures put people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines the U.S. and other country’s efforts to work with foreign nations to solve shared problems. The disclosure of classified documents is an attack on country’s foreign policy interests and is an attack on the international community- the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, and an especial threat to global security and the interest of our nation.

Evidence: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information…This Administration is advancing a robust foreign policy that is focused on advancing America’s national interests and leading the world in solving the most complex challenges of our time, and Wikileaks undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems. So let’s be clear: this disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community.”

Also, an article in the Wall Street Journal, “like small children playing with fires, fascinated with their own power to destroy, Assange and company are setting the world aflame merely to watch it burn. They are not crusaders for a better society. They are nihilists. They are anarchists. And they are enemies of the United States.”

Also, according to Philip Crowley, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Sate, “There are strong and valid reasons information is classified, including critical infrastructure and key resources that are vital to the national and economic security of our country, which Wikileaks endangers by leaking classified documents.”

2. Assertion: Wikileaks decreases intra-government dialogue and forces governments to be even more secretive

Reasoning: If a document is a secret, then a government will go through all means possible to keep it a secret. And because of sights like Wikileaks, prowling secret and classified files for potential documents to leak, governments are forced to become even more secretive. There would be a decrease in openness and sharing even within the U.S. government. People will spend more time being paranoid, and governments will waste more effort on more elaborate security procedures.

Evidence: This view was stated in an SFGate 3/14/10 article

3. Assertion: Wikileaks undermines counter-terrorism intelligence sharing

Reasoning: What has happened as a result of Wikileaks is that brakes have been applied in the trend towards sharing of counter-terrorism information within government departments and across the international board. This information sharing, which was a process that began as a result of the U.S. intelligence community’s failure to piece together data that could have led to the uncovering of the 9/11 plot and adopted by over 75 countries across the world, is endangered because of the abuse of the Internet’s media power by Wikileaks.

Evidence: “Counter-terrorism information sharing between governments might come to a tragic end with the abuse of technological power by Wikileaks. ‘Information fusion’ within governments is likely to be the first casualty of Mr. Assange’s stupid war on ‘secrecy.’" Cameron Munter, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. 7/13/10

4. Assertion: Wikileaks is committing these acts illegally

Reasoning: The press may have the freedom of speech, and we may have the freedom of expression, but there are also limits to this right. These limits were put into place because our government realized the destructive and dangerous nature this right has when used illegally, and Wikileaks breaks these federal rules and therefore does more harm than good.

Evidence: The Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by Pres. LBJ in 1966, is a federal law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the U.S. government. However, because of the danger things like Wikileaks present, there were special exemptions of this protection in the Freedom of Information Act. Illegal misusage of this law includes “Specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.” The 20,000 or so files released by a U.S. intelligence officer to Wikileaks were classified and clearly breaks this law. How, as my opponents will try to prove, can breaking the law be beneficial to our country? How?


Assertions #5